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Remote first – working across continents with dynamic results

Monday, 07 November 2022 09:26
Remote first – working across continents with dynamic results

Kristina kayaking in Berlin during last trip to Germany in August


During lockdown employers and employees discovered that not only was remote work possible, but it also provided a viable alternative to being in-office. There are many reasons for this, from ending lengthy and unproductive commutes and spiralling fuel costs, to a better work-life balance and a more efficient use of time. In the tech industry, this new way of working has also enabled companies to access a whole new talent pool. For Kristina Gransee, Head of Operations at Dynamic Technologies group company xSMTHS, the remote model allows her to work across two countries: South Africa, her new home, and Germany, the country of her birth.

Kristina, who oversees all operational activities at xSMTHS, and is tasked with driving productivity and excellence in delivery. As a young company - the business was founded in February 2022 - building a strong, happy workforce is imperative. Kristina’s focus is on implementing people operations, talent acquisition, and shaping a positive employee experience, from recruitment to onboarding new talent remotely in the UK, Europe and South Africa, and ongoing career management for all staff.

At the start of her career in Germany, Kristina was focused on channel partnerships and alliances. After her move to South Africa, she spent almost ten years with her previous employer, a data consulting and technology business. Her role transitioned from commercially driven and revenue focused to delivery and services focused, and ultimately has become people-centric in the last couple of years. This is where she found the passion and strength in operations and talent development that she has brought to xSMTHS. Kristina says, “I strongly believe that our business can only be successful if we build it around our people. We are hiring based on skills, ability, and aptitude to succeed in our industry. As a remote-first company, we are not limited to specific locations.”

Kristina says that deep inside she will always be a bit of a wanderer. “I left Germany when I was 27 to backpack around the world for a year. Traveling and exploring new places is very important to me, that’s how I ended up living and working in South Africa in 2011. When I am here in South Africa I split my time between Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Plettenberg Bay.

With her penchant for being on the move, remote working between two countries is a natural fit for Kristina, who views South Africa as her home, but still gets that warm, comforting feeling of familiarity when she lands in Germany. A lot of her family is still based in Germany and the 2020/2021 lockdown and travel restrictions took a toll on Kristina. She says, “That was a tough time for me, and it made me feel very restricted, almost trapped. I knew that I needed to build my career around being location independent. When we started xSMTHS it was a clear goal that – aside from South Africa - we have a strong focus on the UK and European markets. That opened the doors for me to spend more time in Germany, or anywhere in Europe really.”

Understanding the challenges of working remotely, Kristina has been instrumental in ensuring xSMTHS makes the most of this model. “From the first day of the business we put processes in place to allow us to grow and scale the business remotely. It takes strong organisational and operational skills to ensure that the business can operate at a fully remote level and that every individual can thrive. In addition, as I work remotely across different countries, I am always a good check point to measure if our processes work, such as how and where we share information, how we onboard new remote team members, and how we facilitate a culture of teamwork.”

For Kristina, the ability to work remotely is not just about travel. She understands the importance of mental wellbeing and knows that happy people are the most productive people. “It doesn’t matter where you are working from, as long as you are motivated, excited to do your work, and invested in the business. Career opportunities and growth shouldn’t be dependent on someone’s location – or passport. Everyone is an individual and has different needs, this doesn’t mean remote work is always natural or easy,” she adds.

Kristina shares some sage advice for others looking to work across multiple locations. “Building trust with your team members and manager is important, as is being reliable, focused, and organised,” she explains. “I don’t take my location independence for granted, and I make sure that nobody else is negatively affected by it. If there are certain important events happening in Cape Town, for example, I make sure I am there during that time. No matter where I work from, our business, my colleagues, our partners, and our clients receive the same productivity and excellent work results. Trust can easily be broken, so make sure expectations on both sides are clear and transparent.”

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